The “go” part of Pokémon Go is proving challenging while many around the world stay home due to the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19. So Niantic is making sweeping changes to its mobile’s game core gameplay functions so trainers can play from home.
The biggest change comes to Pokémon Go’s new Go Battle League. Players no longer have to walk three kilometers to participate in the battle-focused feature. The Go Battle League allows trainers to take on other players from around the globe with a team of three Pokémon. Those that win four matches in a row will get a chance to catch a rare and legendary Pokémon.
But it’s not just the Battle League that needs changes for Pokémon Go to remain viable. The in-game distance tracker, which was sometimes inaccurate at measuring the short distances of indoor travel since it uses GPS, will be updated so that it can track indoor steps more accurately than before. Players can also get rewarded with game achievements for using a treadmill or doing chores around the house. The in-game social features also get an upgrade that allows users to message friends and take on Raid Battles remotely rather than traveling to a specific location together.
Niantic is also adding a Remote Raid Pass that allows players to access these events from home rather than walking to its location. In the future, those battling from the physical site will have an attack advantage but it’s an even playing field while the pandemic lasts. The ability to team up with online friends for these battles will also come in the future, although no time frame is set.
Pokémon Go is also seeing regular features tweaked to make the at-home experience better. Players’ first Pokémon catch of the day in Pokémon Go will also earn three times the amount of experience and Stardust, and the app is expanding the number of gifts players can open and carry. Buddy Pokémon will now visit close PokéStops automatically to bring back gifts and nightly distributed Field Research tasks that trainers can complete at any location.
New item bundles, including one that includes the Remote Raid Pass, cost one PokéCoin, and Poké Balls and incense, which lure Pokémon to your current location, are also deeply discounted in the in-game store. It currently costs $1 to get 100 PokéCoins and there are discounts for larger purchases.
The company was less specific when it came to how it will handle live events in the future, but Niantic ensured fans that it’s “re-imagining” summer events. Niantic promised additional details soon and said that gamers will get a new way to participate in the yearly Pokémon Go fest. The developer is also looking to implement new ways for players to visit one another online and share memories about their favorite real-life locales.
For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.
Updated on April 15, 2020: Added details regarding the Remote Raid Pass and other at-home features.
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